The Columbian exchange stands out as one of the most significant events in the entire world history in terms of how it has shaped world history. The term Columbian exchange refers to the transfer of animals, plants, and diseases between the Old World of Africa and Europe and the New World of the Americas, which began in the late 15th century in the aftermath of Christopher Columbus’ voyages (Crosby, 2016). The Columbia exchange has shaped world history by impacting the social and cultural structure of both sides of the Atlantic.
The exchange of plants during the Columbian exchange changed both the culture and economy of both the Old and New Worlds. The introduction of foods such as maize potato into the Old World facilitated population growth as they helped support larger societies. On the other hand, Old World foods like wheat and barley became staple foods in the New World. These crops among others such as coffee are still important to the New World (Nunn & Qian, 2010).
Another key component of the Columbian exchange is animals. Before the Columbian exchange, the difference between the Old World and New World domestic animals was huge, with the New Word only having a few animals. The New World people had only domesticated the dog and llamas (Nunn & Qian, 2010). The exchange allowed the new world to acquire a variety of livestock including pigs, horses, sheep, cattle, dogs, chickens, and goats. The animals revolutionized the new world as they were used for food, manual labor, and battle in the case of horses (Crosby, 2016).
Lastly, the Columbia exchange impacted world history via the spread of diseases from the Old World to the New World. The most devastating diseases spread to the Americas include smallpox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, chickenpox, typhus, and influenza. The disease outbreaks decimated native Americas allowing Europeans to conquer the indigenous people more easily (Nunn & Qian, 2010). Thus, the Columbian exchange significantly shaped world history.